Telework/Telecommuting

Teleworkers More Motivated to Pursue Wellness on Their Own, Compared to Office Employees

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As we approach the start of Global Employee Health & Fitness Month in May, we’re sharing eye-opening wellness related data from our national probability telephone survey of full-time employed adults conducted by ORC International and co-sponsored by Citrix.

Despite employers investing millions of dollars to promote employee health, almost half of the U.S. workplace does not budge. The problem is that many organizations separate wellness, work life flexibility and other employee strategies into siloed initiatives rather than linking them together to benefit both business and employee performance. It’s time to break down the silos because employee wellness and work life flexibility are better together. 

The survey found:

  • While teleworkers are more likely to pursue wellness options on their own compared to their office-based counterparts, almost half of all full-time U.S. employees do not participate in wellness-related activities no matter where they work.
  • The survey also showed that a lack of work life flexibility is not a barrier to wellness since almost all employees indicated they have some form of flexibility.
  • However, training and guidance on how to manage that flexibility does positively influence employee wellness pursuits.

More details of the survey findings are in the press release below and infographic.

WorkLifeFitWellnessInfoHorz

What do you think of the research findings?  Are you surprised or do they align with your experience?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section, on Twitter @caliyost, or on our Facebook page.

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Teleworkers More Likely to Pursue Wellness Options on Their Own Compared to Office-Based Counterparts

Only Half of U.S. Full-Time Employees Participate in a Workplace or Individual Wellness Program

Among the nearly two-thirds of full-time U.S. employees who say they do not participate in a workplace wellness program, teleworkers are more likely to pursue wellness options on their own compared to their office-based counterparts. However, about 45 percent of all employees – no matter where they work – do not participate in wellness-related activities either through their workplace or individually.

These are among the findings from a national probability telephone survey of 617 full-time employed adults commissioned by Flex+Strategy Group/Work+Life Fit, Inc (FSG/WLF), conducted by ORC International and co-sponsored by Citrix.

“Many organizations bucket wellness, work life flexibility and other employee strategies into separate silos rather than linking them together in a holistic approach that benefits business and employee performance,” said flexible workplace strategist Cali Williams Yost, CEO, Flex+Strategy Group. “Despite employers investing millions of dollars to promote employee health, almost half of the U.S. workplace does not budge.”

  • Only one-third of employees (33%) said they participate in a workplace wellness or wellbeing program with those aged 30 or older more likely to do so than their Gen Y colleagues.
  • Twenty percent said even though their company provides a wellness program, they do not participate.
  • A quarter (25%) said wellness/wellbeing programming is not an option at their workplace.
  • But on a positive note, nearly 20 percent noted that despite not participating in a corporate wellness program, they pursue wellness opportunities on their own, with teleworkers (24%) having significantly more initiative than those that work in an office (17%).

“Teleworkers use their inherent sense of discipline, focus and ability to prioritize to not only get their work done, but also pursue a healthy lifestyle,” Yost said. “It’s a positive outcome of telework that employers should value when we consider that one-third of all full-time U.S. employees now work from a remote location.”

Lack of Flexibility Not a Barrier but Lack of Training Hurts

According to the survey results, lack of work life flexibility is not a barrier to employee wellness as almost all (96%) of employees reported having some type of flexibility (either the same amount or more than the year before). However, the data indicated training and guidance to help use and manage work life flexibility does significantly increase employee wellness participation. While less than half of those surveyed (47%) noted they received such training, those who did were significantly more likely (43%) to say they participate in corporate wellness programs than those who did not receive training (24%).

“With guidance on how to use work life flexibility, these employees have learned how to fit work and other priorities, including exercise and doctor’s visits, into their lives,” Yost explained. “Such training provides organizations an untapped opportunity to educate employees about the various supports and rewards available through workplace wellness programs to be their most productive and healthy selves.”

The survey, with a margin of error of +/- 4 percent, was conducted in July 2015 as part of a biennial series of FSG/WLF studies that have monitored the national progress of issues related to work life flexibility from the individual’s point of view since 2006. More information, including an infographic, is available at www.worklifefit.com/research.

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Media Contact:

Pam Kassner, 414-510-1838, pam@superpear.com

Maggie Baum, 608-438-2814 or maggiebcomm@gmail.com

 

 

If New Jersey Transit Strikes, Will You Be Open for Business?

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Trains

According to the most recent news reports, there is a very good chance that New Jersey Transit will strike as early as this weekend.  This means that as many as 65,000 New Jersey residents who work in Manhattan will have to find alternative, time-consuming ways to get into the office.

If you are an employer, you have two choices:

  1. Do you demand that all New Jersey-based employees do whatever it takes–no matter how long, or how stressful–to get into Manhattan? OR
  2. Do you strategically encourage telework and allow employees to use the time and energy they’d waste commuting to do their jobs productively?

You have three days to answer that question.  You have three days to coordinate a telework strategy that would allow your people to hit the ground running on Monday without missing a beat.

What would that look like in action?

A few years ago, I worked with a major pharmaceutical company widely recognized for their flexible work culture.

One day, as I facilitated a series of sessions for employees and managers, snow began to fall.  On that particular day, I was scheduled to facilitate one session in the morning and another after lunch.  Midway through the afternoon meeting, a few inches of snow had accumulated and you could tell people were anxious to get on the road.  Then the most amazing thing happened…

A number of managers in the room stood up and asked their team members to meet them in a group.  As the various teams gathered, you could hear everyone sharing how they planned to work the next day.  Some would work remotely, others thought they’d wait until after rush hour and come in later, and a couple planned to take personal days if they couldn’t find child care for their very young children.

As the teams reached agreement and dispersed, the managers gathered together and opened their laptops in a circle and began to coordinate with each other.  How would they conduct meetings that were scheduled?  Some decided to cancel meetings while others converted theirs to webinars.  One manager who oversaw a manufacturing facility sent emails to the plant foreman flexibly coordinating the staffing for the next day.

I watched in awe.  Finally, the manufacturing manager saw my faced and asked me, ‘’Why are you smiling and shaking your head?”  At this point, all of the managers in the room looked up.  I responded, “Do you realize how much money you are saving by flexibly coordinating tomorrow’s work in anticipation of the snow?”  You could tell they were a bit confused.

They didn’t see what they were doing as unusual.  It’s how they got the job done.  So I pointed out, “See your competitor down the street?  Do they use flexibility as easily and strategically as you do to maintain operating continuity even if it snows?”  Another manager said, “No they don’t.”  I continued, “Okay, so who’s open for business tomorrow and who isn’t?”  Now they were smiling and shaking their heads, “We are.”

This group of managers didn’t think twice about supporting flexible ways of working, but it was the first time they consciously realized how they were using it to meet a business need–staying open when nature strikes!

What about your organization?  Will you be open for business at full, productive capacity should New Jersey Transit strike, or will your people waste precious time and energy sitting in cars and buses for three hours each way trying to make it into the office and then get home?

Are you having coordinated conversations today about how everyone plans to work most efficiently on Monday–whether that’s remotely or in Manhattan?  Or will you just take your chances?

I invite you to sign up for our monthly newsletter and to connect with me on Twitter @caliyost and Facebook.

Work-life does not imply age, gender, or parenthood

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I was honored when the The Boston Globe asked me to contribute to “The Work Issue” they published this past weekend in honor of Labor Day.

The article, “Work-life does not imply age, gender, or parenthood,” included graphic highlights (above) of results from the recent national study we conducted in partnership with ORC International.

Key points I make in the OpEd:

Recent news events — reported abuses by employees at the US Patent and Trademark Office, Yahoo’s high-profile pullback in 2013 — may suggest otherwise, but research shows that remote work has become a fundamental way that a surprisingly large percentage of the American workforce gets their jobs done. Now organizations, managers, and individuals must catch up.

We need to de-parent, de-gender, and de-age the perception of the flexible worker. Among the respondents who said they did most of their work from a remote location, nearly three out of four were men. Further, there was no significant difference between remote workers with or without kids, and no significant difference in the age groups of remote workers.

If we can no longer isolate telework neatly into demographic boxes, that means we all need to acquire a new skill set to use telework to get our jobs done — and manage the rest of our lives. Unfortunately, in that same study, a majority of workers — nearly 60 percent — received no training on how to manage their work-life flexibility, and this lack of guidance made them feel like their boss had all the control.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

What do you think?  Have we reached the tipping point where telework has become a fundamental way we get our jobs done, regardless of gender, parenting status and age?

I invite you to connect with me on Twitter @caliyost and Facebook.

Telework Week Myth Busters in Pictures (Infographic)

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Download or print infographic, HERE.

View complete survey report upon which the infographic is based, “It’s 10 a.m. Do You Know Where and How Your Employees are Working?

Listen to WSJ MarketWatch Radio interview, “The average telecommuter isn’t who you think it is,” where FSG/WLF CEO, Cali Yost, talks about the research.

NEW RESEARCH: Reveals Major Telework Myths and Growing Open Office Struggle

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As we approach Telework Week 2014 (March 3-7), new national research from the Flex+Strategy Group / Work+Life Fit, Inc. shatters common myths about who is working where and reveals new realities along with new struggles about how full-time employees get their work done.

Key findings from the research, which looks both at telework and the growing open office trend, are outlined in the press release below.

More Women Put in Hours at the Office and in Cubes While More Men Telework

Men outpace women by a wide margin when it comes to telework – doing work from home, business center or another location – while women are more likely putting their hours in at their employer’s office according to new research that dispels long-standing telework myths and explores the increasing struggles of the open office trend.

The Flex+Strategy Group/Work+Life Fit, Inc. (FSG/WLF) found that among a national probability survey of 556 full-time employed adults nearly one-third (31%) do most of their work away from their employer’s location, and nearly three out of four of those remote workers are men.

“Failure to understand how and where work gets done and by whom, and failure to support these operational strategies with the attention and resources warranted – including training and guidance — can compromise the optimal performance and wellbeing of both organizations and employees,” explains flexible workplace strategist and author Cali Williams Yost, CEO, Flex+Strategy Group.

Telework Stereotypes Don’t Match Reality

FSG/WLF’s research dispelled several telework stereotypes. The typical full-time remote worker is:

  • NOT a woman: Among those that telework, 71 percent were men.
  • NOT a parent: There is no significant difference between remote workers with or without kids.
  • NOT a millennial: There is no significant difference in the age groups of remote workers.

“Almost one-third of the work that gets done today gets done from home, coffee shops and other locations, yet too many corporate leaders treat telework as a disposable option, as in the case of Yahoo,” Yost explains. “Telework is not a perk and it’s certainly not just for moms and Gen Y. Rather, it’s an operational strategy. Think of it as anything less and organizations ignore what has become a vital part of their business and the way their people actually work.”

Open Office Spaces Take Toll on Work Life Flexibility

Back at the employer site, respondents reported doing most of their work either in a private office (30%) or a cube or open office space (33%) with women (43%) significantly more likely than men (27%) to work in cubes/open spaces. Overall, cube/open office workers struggle the most.

  • They were the largest group reporting less work life flexibility now than at this time last year (42%) when compared to their remote and private office colleagues, and of those who feel they have the least control over their work life flexibility, cube/open office workers were the largest percentage.
  • They were significantly more likely to say they didn’t use or improve their work life flexibility because “it might hurt your career/others think you don’t work as hard” when compared to remote workers. Yost believes worries about a “mommy track” stigma may be one reason why fewer women work remotely.
  • They received the least amount of training to help them manage their work life flexibility. Remote workers (47%) were significantly more likely to receive such guidance compared to those in cubes/open spaces (35%).

“As organizations continue to squeeze more people into less square footage, they will be increasingly confronted with the limitations of open office plans and forced to accept that work life flexibility is a solution to where, when and how employees can get their work done with greater focus and performance,” Yost says. “Whether they work remotely or together on site, we need to help employees develop the critical skill set needed to manage their work life fit so they can successfully capture the best of collaborative and remote work environments.”

More about the survey:

FSG/WLF’s latest biennial research was made possible with support from Quest Diagnostics, the world’s leading provider of diagnostic information services, a premier provider of lab-based employer wellness services, and an award-winning healthy employer of more than 40,000 people.

Findings and analysis are solely FSG/WLF’s and are based upon a survey conducted by ORC International with a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

LIVE WEBINAR: Cali Yost and experts from Quest Diagnostics and Citrix will discuss these findings in a 30-minute webinar Thursday, February 27th at 2 p.m. EST. Register HERE.

Media Contact: Pam Kassner, pam@superpear.com, 414-510-1838

Why the Federal Government’s Telework “Policy” Won’t Achieve Flexible Work Success

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I was originally booked on Federal News Radio’s “Federal Drive” morning show to discuss how TWEAK IT can help individuals can find a better work-life “balance.”

But, the segment quickly turned into an opportunity to reinforce the link between work flexibility AND the skills and tools people need to capture that flexibility and use it to be their best, on and off the job (which, ultimately, is what TWEAK IT is about).

Below, you will find a link to the lively 13-minute discussion I had with hosts, Tom Temin and Emily Kopp.  Some of the key points we covered included:

  • Like in any organization, the government’s telework “policy” is not enough to create a successful culture of flexibility that meets the needs of the organization and its people.
  • In an environment with more duties and fewer resources, we can’t keep working harder and faster. We have to work and manage our lives smarter and better.
  • Telework is not a “program,” it is a way of operating in this “do more with less” environment that requires a partnership between the workplace and the person using it.
  • The skill set individuals need to play their role in that flexible work partnership includes the ongoing small, meaningful  “tweaks” to manage their everyday work+life fit and the “resets” that involve a more formal flexible work plan.
  • Truth is that not every type of job or level supports the same type of work flexibility. Good news is the everyday work+life “fit” how-to in TWEAK IT applies to everyone, regardless of the flexibility your job supports.
  • Technology allows more flexibility, but it has also caused us to become more reactive. We need to set better boundaries throughout the day but don’t know how.
  • We have to learn how to test expectations. Sometimes we think we have to respond immediately when we get a late night email or when we are on vacation.  But that is not the case.  Yet we don’t ask.

And there is much, much more.  Let me know what you think in the comments section.

And, if you haven’t already, I would love to connect with you on Twitter @caliyost and on Facebook and continue the conversation.

Open Office Spaces and Telework: Marriage Made in Heaven, That No One Talks About

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There’s a growing awareness that if an organization wants to realize the full potential of its open office space, then there are some real challenges that have to addressed related to uninterrupted focus, and quiet.  

Yes, when you substitute long tables and plug-and-play spaces for office walls and dedicated cubicles, you can fit more people into the same area which saves money.  And, when individuals encounter each other more easily throughout the day, it can encourage collaboration and creativity that might not happen otherwise.

But what do you do when you need uninterrupted time to focus deeply on a project?  Where do you go to have a private conversation with a colleague or a client?

Currently, the answer is to offer a certain number of quiet rooms that can be reserved in advance for a specific period of time or to provide areas/alcoves that provide some freedom from disturbances.

Unfortunately, what we’re hearing from employees and leaders is that these dedicated private spaces oftentimes don’t match the need. Here are some common experiences:

  • A person will reserve a room for an hour to give their undivided attention to a project, but finds that sixty minutes isn’t enough time. However someone else needs the room. They have to pick up in the middle of their work and lose momentum.
  • An individual spins his wheels struggling to complete a report by the end of the day because colleagues decide to hold an impromptu meeting in the space next to where he is working. He tries to find an alcove that’s quieter but all are taken.

People have found ways to adapt and work around the challenges. They are using headphones even though the music can be a distraction, albeit a lesser one. Others extend their workday to complete the tasks that require the most concentration. They wake up earlier and work from home before they leave or in the evening when they return.

But there’s alternative solution that doesn’t get enough attention. What if organizations promote the periodic use of telework as a alternative option when undistracted attention and quiet are needed to get the job done, well and efficiently? It’s a win-win for both the organization and its people.  The cost-saving/innovation benefits of the open office space are coupled with the productivity boost from periodic, strategic and targeted telework. If done correctly, it can be a marriage made in heaven.

Instead of losing focus and productivity:

  • A person who needs to give undivided attention to a complex project can telework that day from a location that allows her to think deeply.
  • An individual who finds the impromptu meeting of his colleagues too distracting, can leave and find a location more conducive to concentration.

After her group transitioned to an open office space plan, the General Counsel of a global pharmaceutical company quickly realized the power of telework to address the concentration struggles of her team.

She encouraged her staff attorneys to pick the place where they did their best thinking when they needed to prepare for a case and get through a complicated document.

Some attorneys chose to work in the office, some at home and others from a coffee shop where no one knew them. One attorney even chose to work from a library close to the office.

The trick is that the General Counsel couldn’t determine where each person who reports to her would be the most productive on a given day.  For the open office space/telework marriage to thrive, each individual employee has to be taught, as part of their everyday work+life fit management practice, to think through “where” they will do their job most effectively.

The open office space trend will continue as organizations look for ways to cut overhead and save money. However CFOs and facilities management should partner upfront with Human Resources, the IT group, managers and employees and explore how telework can make the transition successful for the business and its people.

For more on the topic, check out Katherine Lewis’ recent article on Fortune.com  “The slow death of the private office.”

What do you think?  Are open office spaces and telework destined to be together?

It’s Not Just About “When” You’ll Work, But “Where” and “How”

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For the past two weeks, I have traveled the country to share the skills we need to flexibly manage our work+life fit day-to-day (tweaks) and at major transitions (resets) in partnership with our employers.

My experience on the road has reinforced that most of us have no idea how to capture and use work flexibility, intentionally, to meet our needs and exceed expectations on our jobs.

There is a massive 65% flexibility “how to” knowledge gap. It’s occurred because 82% of full-time U.S. workers say they have some form of informal or formal flexibility in how, when or where they work, but only 17% of employers train their people how to use it. That assumes you work for one employer. If you don’t, then no one teaches you anything.

We’ve thrown everyone into the work flexibility water without lessons and said, “swim,” then wonder why so many of us still cling to the side of pool not sure how to move forward.

One area of confusion I hear often is that most people still think managing your work+life fit is simply a matter of good time management. Actually, it’s not.

In a world without clocks and walls to tell us where work ends and the other parts of our life begin, “when” we are going to accomplish a particular action or priority is important. But you also have to focus on the “where” and “how.”

It’s a “what, when, where and how” practice.

For example, according to a new study by Regus:

  • 82% of workers in the NY Tri-State region said that they spend at least one day per month working outside of their office.
  • 62% felt that their employer expects them to be available to respond to work issues during this time.
  • But only 18% said that they actually got work done if they were outside of their office, between meetings and had free time.

Why? Because they had no good place to actually do work. Restaurants, coffee shops and airports are noisy, and unpredictable.

As as result, many respondents ended up taking care of personal tasks during that down time, like shopping, walking around or answering personal emails.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with spending time on personal activities as long as it is a deliberate work+life fit choice. Unfortunately, it seems that for many it’s a default response to a lack of quality in between “not in the office, but not at home” workspace.

Thankfully that is changing. Organizations like Regus, WorkSnug and other specialized, membership based co-working entities like In Good Company, are offering drop-in, temporary, co-working options in major cities across the world.  I have made it a point to learn as much as I can about these new, flexible workspaces because they are an important solution that most of us don’t think about.

As you look at your work and personal “to dos” for the upcoming week, don’t be afraid to schedule multiple meetings in a location knowing you will have a place to go in between and still be productive. You don’t have to hope you will find a free table and power source at the local Starbucks.

Today, flexibly managing your work+life fit is not just about “when” you get everything done. It’s also about “where” and “how”. More “not the office but not at home” in between co-working spaces expand the possibilities. They allow you to be more intentional about how you choose to make what matters to you happen, on and off the job. Find them, and strategically use them. I am!

Do you think about “where” and “how” you will do you job and manage the other parts of your life each week, or do you primarily focus on “when?”

For more, I invite you to connect with me on Twitter @caliyost , “Like” our Facebook page, and sign up for our weekly Flex+Strategy/Work+Life Fit Insights newsletter.

 

LIVE 5/8 in NYC FREE Event and Book! It’s Not About “Balance”–Your Work-Life Can Be “Flexible”

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I am very excited to offer this special opportunity courtesy of Regus, the world’s largest provider of flexible workplaces.

Join me LIVE for a FREE Event and Book  in New York City on Wednesday, May 8, 6:30pm – 8:00pm.  

I will help celebrate the grand opening of the Regus’ first-ever, ground level Business Lounge, 747 Third Avenue in New York City, which is conveniently located in Midtown at 46th and Third.

I will share my newest thinking about work+life flexibility–where we are, where it’s going, what people and businesses need to do better and smarter for flexible work success.

AND, if you are one of the first 50 attendees, you will receive a complimentary signed copy of my new book, TWEAK IT: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day!  

This event could not happen at a better time.

The incredible news firestorm around Yahoo’s and Best Buy’s decision to end their work-from-home policies got the whole country thinking about the notion of being able to work more flexibly.  From the C-suite to front line managers in charge of a stressed and exhausted workforce, the conversation around the “new way to work” has never been more top of mind.

There are even bottom line issues for companies to consider – “if I create more opportunities for people to work from anywhere, can I trim by real estate costs?” not to mention employee retention and improved morale.

Why is Regus sponsoring this event?  Regus has also been a champion of working flexibly since the late 1980s, and has locations in 600 cities in nearly 100 countries.   And they believe the new Business Lounge will be life-changing for any New Yorker looking for a professional alternative to coffee shops and make-shift offices for less than the cost of a daily latte.

I agree!  Check it out, get a book, and say “hi.”  Hope to see you, your friends, your colleagues there.

What’s the Future of Workplace Flexibility? (Minnesota Public Radio)

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I recently appeared on Minnesota Public Radio’s “The Daily Circuit” to discuss the current state of flexibility in the workplace following the announcements that Yahoo had discontinued formal telework, and Best Buy no longer supported its Results Only Work Environment.

I talked about how my new book, TWEAK IT: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day, is the modern skill set that everyone needs, but few people have, to meet their employer halfway for flexible work success.

It was a very interesting conversation.  Listen and tell me what you think.

For more, I invite you to connect with me on Twitter @caliyost and “Like” our Facebook page